Kucherov snaps out of funk in must win game for Lightning

Kucherov snaps out of funk in must win game for Lightning

Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom did not play in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final against the Tampa Bay Lightning because of a hand injury.

Game 3 on Tuesday night in Washington can't come soon enough for the Lightning, who are in a historically hard spot after losing twice at home to open the series.

The most recent issue is the Eastern Conference finals playoff series between the Capitals and Lightning. Asked what the Lightning needed to do better, three-time Cup-winning defenseman Ken Daneyko responded, "Where do we begin?".

"If there is one thing I can sit here and say about these two games, it's we just played tentative and a little bit slow", Lightning coach Jon Cooper told NHL.com. Thanks to strong performances from their four All-Stars they came away with a 4-2 victory to cut the Capitals series lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. With his 10th career power-play goal, Stamkos tied Martin St. Louis for Tampa Bay's playoff record. Hedman had the primary assist on power-play goals by Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov and was a key part of three big penalty kills for Tampa Bay.

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There's an argument that they could have given him the night off on Tuesday to promote further healing with the team holding a healthy 2-0 lead series lead. This marks the fourth straight game he has missed. The Capitals captain is second in goals scored behind Winnipeg's Mark Scheifele (12). "We've got the guys that are in the playoffs for the first time, guys have been through this, and we're capable of handling that".

That doesn't appear to be the case, as Washington delivered another beatdown in Game 2, smoking the Lightning by a final score of 6-2.

Washington's defensive play has limited the Lightning to one even-strength goal in the first two games, and the Capitals have succeeded in generating odd-man rushes when they have the puck. They will set out to show the home crowd that Tuesday's special teams shortcomings were an aberration. "We can't describe how good he is out there. They scored, we didn't and that's on us", Kuznetsov said.

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